Last night, when Rodney Williams converted a layup 8:31 into the game against Northwestern and the crowd erupted, it was hard to tell whether the fans were genuinely excited to see another score, whether they were confused after being roused from their first-half nap (I mean, the halftime score was 17-14) or whether … no, there was definitely something else going on.
In fact, it was Williams’ 1000th career point that he scored on the layup, becoming the 38th Gopher all-time to do so.
Williams has the potential to notch several other milestones as well before he finishes his career at Minnesota. He currently is 39 rebounds short of 500, 32 assists short of 200 and 32 blocks short of 150.
If Williams hits the milestones in points, rebounds and assists, he will become the third Gopher to do that (Sam Jacobson and Willie Burton also did).
If he hits the milestones in points, rebounds and blocks, he will become the sixth player to do so (Kevin McHale, Randy Breuer, Michael Bauer, Mychal Thompson and Ralph Sampson III also did).
But if he achieves all four landmarks -- points, rebounds, assists and blocks – he will be the first Gophers player ever to achieve those numbers.
Here’s what coach Tubby Smith had to say about the forward today during the Big Ten teleconference:
“Being a local player, there’s that added pressure and expectations, and Rodney has been able to overcome those things and playing out of position. The unselfishness he shows just by his ability – as we talk about the number of assists – his willingness to be a team player and sacrifice his part of the game and move to the power forward spot.
“I think he’s just [stood] the test of time. With so many players leaving early, I think Rodney is a player that has had to overcome more from a standpoint of making that transition from center to small forward then back to power forward and the things we’ve asked him to do. So it tells you a lot about his character and the type of person, the competitiveness he has. He loves playing; he wants to win.
“But to do what he’s been able to do, 1,000 points, possible 500 rebounds, 200 assists, in the record books, your name will go in, that’s a legacy, that’s part of the journey that every player hope to aspire to.
“… He’s meant a lot to this program and certainly he’s going to be needed to do more. We expect Rodney to even elevate his game more as we move into the tough part of our schedule here as we play Illinois, Indiana and Michigan in a row.”